1. Eko Yuli Irawan
From goatherd to Olympic medalist
The son of a pedicab driver and a market stall attendant, Eko Yuli Irawan didn’t dream of much beyond tending to goats, which he did every day after school to help his family make ends meet. Seeing potential, a local coach let Irawan train for free at his weightlifting gym, a decision that changed Irawan’s life.
Today, the 30-year-old athlete from Sumatra is a three-time Olympian, having won bronze medals in Beijing and London and a silver in Rio de Janeiro. The fact that he’s done this and more despite his tiny stature of 5ft 2in has made him a national hero in his native Indonesia. After winning gold at the 2019 World Weightlifting Championships, he has his sights set at the top of the podium in Tokyo next year, and eventually wants to be recognised as the greatest of all time, a different kind of GOAT altogether.